In the second grade world, we talk a lot about just right books. We talk about looking for authors you love, looking at the cover, checking the blurb, flipping through a few pages and making sure there aren’t too many hard words…yada yada, yada. I never took this too seriously in my adult reading world and to be honest have come to the conclusion that maybe this method of selecting a “just right” book doesn’t always work. Let me show you an example…
I just finished a book that may have squirmed it’s way into my Top 10 list….Or at the very least Top 20. Let’s review the “just right” criteria I teach my students to follow and see if it matches up to my real world example.
1. Find an author you love – I don’t love Stephen King, in fact I’ve never even spoken out loud that I like him. Stephen King makes me think of six hour long, supernatural, made for t.v movies. Ick.
2. Look at the cover – Sure history has always interested me but nothing about the cover of this book makes me feel any different than the historical biographies I always see my dad reading. Meh.
3. Checking the blurb – The blurb DID reel me in. I often play the “if you could have one superpower” game with friends, strangers, people at the grocery store (you get the idea)…I ALWAYS pick time travel. ALWAYS. Most people tend to go with teleportation or the overrated invisibility cloak but time travel is what I’m sticking with. I saw time travel in the blurb and I was hooked.
4. Read a few pages and make sure it’s not too hard – I think I had the “hard” words handled.
So there you have it, the strategy of picking a “just right” book is only 1/4 true when you make it into the adult world of reading. Either way, I’m really glad I broke the rules on this book. Nothing about it screamed out at me as a book I needed to read. I can only tell you that I’m so glad I went against my better judgement. Something interesting happened as I was reading though…
Halfway through the book I started getting angry. I found myself angry at time for not being long enough and angry at the book for sucking me back in at the end of each chapter (I’ll read to the end of this chapter and quit, yeah right.) I was angry at George Amberson for not being a real person I could hang out with/date, and even angrier that he someone managed to find a time travel portal when I’ve been walking around for 26 years looking for one!
Long story short, we had a love/hate relationship.
I’m not going to spoil any portion of this book because if you read it you will love it and if you don’t you will not be angry for all of the reasons I was above. Either way a win-win situation. I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book….
“‘For a moment everything was clear, and when that happens you see that the world is barely there at all. Don’t we all secretly know this? It’s a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dreamclock chiming beneath a mystery-glass we call life. Behind it? Below it and around it? Chaos, storms. Men with hammers, with knives, men with guns. Women who twist what they cannot dominate and belittle what they cannot understand. A universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted stage where mortals dance in defiance of the dark.”